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By : Frits Meijer and Henk Visscher

The European Commission and EU member states have prioritised the renovation of the existing housing stock as a means of achieving their energy-efficiency targets. As buildings account for 40% of Europe’s energy consumption and much of this is used in the residential sector a major breakthrough could be realized here. Despite the fact that energy saving targets have been prioritized in EU and national policy programme’s, progress is slow. The actual rate and extent of renovations are by fare not enough to achieve the targets. Although the necessity of energy savings is acknowledged by institutional investors in housing, housing associations, individual homeowners and occupants, it appears to be difficult to get sufficient support for energy efficiency renovations. The current economic situation is an additional barrier preventing large scale investments in energy renovating the housing stock. This article connects the realisation of energy efficiency goals with the creation of jobs in the EU. The shift from newbuild to renovation will have considerable effects on employment in especially the construction industry and the qualifications required by the workforce. Studies show that for every €1 million investment in the existing building stock in the form of energy renovation work, 12 to 17 new jobs could be created. Potentially this could lead to may new jobs. However, there are many uncertainties in these calculations. Are these direct or indirect jobs, what sectors would benefit, are these jobs created within the EU and what would be the net effect on the labour market? Nonetheless these uncertainties, the positive employment effects will prevail. A new and ambitious investment programme in the housing sector could not only improve the energy performance of the sector but create 100.000’s of valuable jobs at a time when these are seriously needed.
Keywords: Energy Efficiency Policy, European Union, Construction Industry, Housing Stock.

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